Under federal law, it is a crime for anyone with a felony record to possess a gun. But a federal judge has just issued a ruling which may potentially pave the way for an estimated population of about 3,000 federal prisoners to raise a new criminal defense to have their sentences reduced or convictions set aside all together.
The news stems from a federal judge recently overturning the conviction of a North Carolina man who was sent to prison after a prosecutor wrongfully charged him as a felon in possession of firearms. Apparently, this man is one of many in North Carolina to be charged with illegal firearms possession in spite of the fact that his past conviction did not qualify him as a felon under the law.
The federal criminal charge of firearms possession actually requires that the person who is accused of the crime has a felony record.
The Department of Justice has decided not to oppose the release of those who were wrongfully charged with firearms possession, and it has also pledged to accelerate relief of those that were improperly convicted of this crime. It is not known exactly how many current prisoners will be eligible for relief, but the number is expected to be in the thousands.
Those who think that they may have been wrongfully charged with firearms possession may be wise to consult with a criminal law professional to determine one's eligibility for relief. This is certainly welcome news for many who are currently incarcerated and are innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted.
Source: Myrtle Beach Online,"Inmates convicted of gun crimes could be released", Michael Biesecker, Aug. 18, 2012